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Platinum Nickel Nanowires as Oxygen Reducing Electrocatalysts

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

Per the Department of Energy’s 2015 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report, the number of fuel cells shipped globally in 2015 increased by 65% from 2014 with a total of over 60,000 fuel cells or over 300 megawatts (MW) shipped. This increasing popularity of fuel cells as an alternative source of power results from their quiet operation, efficient use of fuel energy, high energy storage density, and the potential for drastic reductions in emissions of particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and CO2.

However, proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, despite their high power density and light weight, consist of porous carbon electrodes that contain an expensive platinum (Pt) catalyst. This Pt catalyst is sensitive to CO poisoning and, when in the form of high surface area carbon supported platinum nanoparticle (Pt/HSC) catalysts, is prone to surface area aggregation, Ostwald ripening, and dissolution. To overcome these barriers, scientists have developed methods varying from alloying Pt with other transition metals for the production of nanostructured oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) catalysts to the spontaneous galvanic displacement for the production of Pt nickel nanostructured oxygen reduction reaction (Pt/Ni ORR) catalysts. While these developments can produce high surface area catalysts, minimize the leaching of alloyed metal, and reduce contamination issues, there has only been moderate success for the development of methods for the manufacturing of high surface area, high-performing nanostructured Pt/Ni ORR catalysts. Thus, there is a need for improved methods of producing PEM fuel cell catalysts that perform better and cost less to manufacture and operate.


NREL researchers have developed a method for producing nanostructured metal catalysts that can be used for fuel cells and alternative fuel applications. This novel method consists of synthesizing platinum (Pt) nickel nanowires through the partial galvanic displacement of nickel nanowires with Pt and then annealing the resulting wires in hydrogen. The resulting catalysts were tested for electrochemical activity in the oxygen reduction reaction using rotating disk electrode half-cells and were found to have activities in excess of 2000 mA mgPt-1 and 0.9 V versus a reversible hydrogen electrode.

  • Improves catalyst activity
  • Enables catalyst cost reduction
Applications and Industries
  • Fuel Cells
  • Proton Exchange Membranes (PEM)
  • Catalysts
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Application 20160126562
Aspects disclosed herein relate to methods for producing nanostructured metal catalysts that can be used in various alternative fuel applications.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory 11/04/2015
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
NREL ROI 14-41PrototypeAvailable12/29/201612/29/2016

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To: Eric Payne<>